“I tell you, it’s always something sweet Jesus! And when it ain’t something, you’re dead! Life is a bitch, and then you die…or you marry one.”
Yesterday, of all the places on God’s chromatic earth, I had the rare, opportune fortune of meeting some colleagues of mine from the University of Florida, in Istanbul, some thousands of miles away from Florida. All of us are in here in this great city for various reasons – school, vacation, etc – and yet we Floridians somehow managed to coalesce once more despite the bedlam of conflicting schedules, annoying papers, and obfuscating roadways and bus routes. It was a sight for me to see them once more, especially so far from Gainesville, and I reveled once more as I did back in those at the University of Florida listening and participating in conversations.
I won’t divulge the contents of those conversations or the identities of my interlocutors since I want to protect the confidentiality of those who confided in me (I ain’t no snitch!) and since I don’t believe in “airing dirty laundry of another,” but, I was surprised, and, to be honest, somewhat relieved to know that many people are going through or have already endured similar situations or crises as I am right now: it seems everybody has a grudge of some sort against something or other these days, against certain aspects of Islam or cultural practices of Muslims or marriage or racism or career paths and choices or sexism or double standards or hegemony or whatever. You might imagine, within your own mind, that you surely mustn’t be the only one to have such reservations, to see such inconsistencies, but perhaps you don’t chance upon others who would possess the courage or whatever it might require to openly reveal their own misgivings about such-and-such. You might then think that you are the only one who took the crazy pill, but, chances are, you really aren’t the only one.
“You ain’t the first, and you damn sure won’t be the last either.”
Now more than ever seems to be a time of great strife and uncertainty for me and some of my peers, the time of existential grudges, and the time of inquiry on cosmic proportions. What do I do now (in my case)? What the Hell do I believe in anyway? Who or what am I? Where do I go from here? Having dealt with the passing of my mother, having dealt with quitting a dismal job of two years, and having witnessed the relationships and love interests of some good friends dissolve to distance and nothingness, I’m left to feel as the scum at the bottom of life’s greasy, muddy, dirty, steel-toed boot. This, of course, is hyperbole and whining, as they are others on this earth who have it much worse than either I or my friends. We take the gravity of our problems for granted and escalate our own affairs to the realm of cosmic importance, an act, though inadvertent at times, that reeks of arrogance. Nothing I’ve seen in Istanbul serves as a more humbling reminder of my privilege as an American, even as a Blackamerican, than seeing dirty, destitute boys sitting on the sidewalk selling water bottles and packaged tissues to make a living or seeing old hijabis beg for change outside the masjids or seeing stray dogs and cats fight over table scraps.
“You think you got it bad till you hear ’bout somebody else.”
I don’t suppose that there are too many alternatives to the contrary. No such romanticized utopia constructed along neither ostensible religious nor secular lines exists are far as I’m concerned. Muslims are assured that life is a test, and it would appear that Allah wasn’t lying when He made such a proclamation in the Qur’an.
“Your shit doesn’t smell like a bed of roses either.”
Toil and tumult are perduring themes of the human narrative.
Verily, We have created man into (a life of) pain, toil and trial. [90:4]
…better get use to it and stop idealizing everything so much…
…move from real to ideal or else you’ll be force to go in the other direction…
I’ve been supplicating to Allah for some closure and for some guidance, and I don’t think my asking has been a vain effort. I’m closer to finding the answers I’ve been looking for, al-hamdu’ilah. I think I’m beginning to get it, slowly, at a snails pace, one nanosecond at a time. It’s a wisdom I can’t quite express in words, at least not with the words I know, which, unfortunately for me, is relegated only to English, but the wisdom is burgeoning all the same.
It’s there, I know it is.
“It’s bad, but it ain’t that damn bad.”